How Does COVID-19 Affect People with HIV?
We are still learning about COVID-19 and how it affects people with HIV. Nearly half of people in the United States with diagnosed HIV are ages 50 and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of certain underlying health conditions. Older adults and those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to get very sick if they get COVID-19. This is especially true for people with advanced HIV or people with HIV who are not on treatment.
People at increased risk for severe illness, and those who live with or visit them, should take precautions (including getting vaccinated and wearing a well-fitting mask) to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
Visit COVID-19 and HIV FAQs from CDC for the latest information.
Feeling sick? If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and stay home and away from others except to get medical care. Keep taking your HIV medicine as prescribed. If you are not taking HIV medicine, talk to your health care provider about the benefits of getting on HIV treatment. Learn more about COVID-19 and what to do if you are sick.
If you test positive and are an older adult or someone who is at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, treatment may be available. Contact a healthcare provider right away after a positive test to determine if you are eligible, even if your symptoms are mild right now. You can also visit a Test to Treat location and, if eligible, receive a prescription from a provider. Don’t delay: COVID-19 treatment must be started within the first few days to be effective. Learn more about COVID-19 and what to do if you are sick.
COVID-19 Vaccines and People with HIV
Get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone who is eligible, including people with HIV, regardless of their CD4 count or viral load. The number of vaccine doses you need depends on the type of vaccine you receive.
Additional primary shot. After completing the COVID-19 vaccine primary series, some people who have advanced HIV (including an AIDS diagnosis) or who have HIV and are not taking HIV treatment should get an additional primary shot. This additional primary shot is intended to improve their immune response to their two-dose COVID-19 vaccine primary series. People who are eligible for this additional primary shot should receive this dose before they get a booster shot. CDC does not recommend an additional primary shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with HIV who are virally suppressed or who do not have advanced HIV. Talk to your health care provider to determine if getting an additional primary shot is right for you.
Booster shots. CDC recommends that everyone, including people with HIV, get a booster shot after completing their COVID-19 vaccine primary series. People 50 years and older, people ages 12+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised (including those with advanced or untreated HIV), and people who received a J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for both their primary dose and booster can also get a second booster, when they are eligible. Get information about who can get a booster shot, when to get a booster, and which booster you can get.
Vaccine safety. COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with HIV. COVID-19 vaccines meet the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality and people with HIV were included in vaccine clinical trials. Learn more about vaccine safety.
If you have questions about getting COVID-19 vaccine and whether it is right for you, talk to your health care provider.
Visit vaccines.gov or text your ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish to find COVID-19 vaccines near you.
COVID-19 and HIV: Federal Resources
Below are resources about COVID-19 from agencies across the federal government for people with HIV and the health care providers and organizations who work with them. Information is regularly being updated as we learn more in this evolving situation.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- CDC.gov/coronavirus —This site provides the latest public health and safety information on COVID-19 from CDC for consumers and the medical and health provider community.
- What to Know About HIV and COVID-19 | CDC—This page features FAQs about HIV and COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People—This page offers information for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, including those with advanced or untreated HIV.
- COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Underlying Medical Conditions—This page offers information to help people with certain medical conditions (including HIV) make an informed decision about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
- HIV Self-Testing Guidance—This CDC guidance addresses the use of HIV self-testing programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- How to Talk with Patients Who Are Immunocompromised—This page offers tips for medical providers on talking with their patients who are severely or moderately immunocompromised about getting an additional dose of mRNA vaccine.
- Interim Guidance for Syringe Services Programs (SSPs)—This guidance describes actions SSPs can take to support clients, staff, and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Medical Conditions Evidence Table—This table provides links to the scientific evidence used to update CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions that put adults at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including HIV.
- Older Adults—This page provides information COVID-19 risks and vaccines and for older adults. More than half of people in the U.S. with diagnosed HIV are over age 50.
- People Who Use Drugs or Have Substance Use Disorder—This page provides COVID-19 information for people who use drugs or have substance use disorder and their loved ones.
- People with Certain Medical Conditions—This page provides links to information for adults with certain underlying medical conditions that can make a person more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, including HIV.
- PrEP During COVID-19—This CDC guidance addresses the provision of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- COVID-19 Information for Health Centers and Partners—This HRSA Health Center Program page provides the latest information on COVID-19 for health centers and Health Center Program partners. HRSA-funded health centers are a vital part of the nation’s response to HIV.
- HRSA HAB COVID-19 Information—This HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA HAB) page provides links to resources for Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) recipients, subrecipients, and stakeholders who are responding to COVID-19. It includes links to RWHAP COVID-19 FAQs, technical assistance information for CARES Act RWHAP award recipients, and audio and transcripts from HRSA HAB’s program policy and technical assistance webinars.
- HRSA.gov/coronavirus—This page provides COVID-19 information specific to all HRSA programs and grantees.
Indian Health Service (IHS)
- IHS.gov/coronavirus—This web page provides Information specific to the federal response in Indian Country.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- HIV and COVID-19—This consumer fact sheet from NIH’s HIVinfo website provides information about how COVID-19 affects people with HIV, how people with HIV can protect themselves and others from infection with COVID-19, the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people with HIV, and potential drug-drug interactions between HIV medicines and COVID-19 treatment.
- COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network (COVPN)—The CoVPN seeks to enroll thousands of volunteers in large-scale clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. It was formed by merging NIAID-funded clinical trial networks, including three that target HIV and AIDS. Interested individuals can sign up to participate in these trials.
- Guidance for COVID-19 and Persons with HIV—This guidance reviews special considerations for persons with HIV and their health care providers in the United States regarding COVID-19.
- NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines—These Treatment Guidelines were developed to inform clinicians how to care for patients with COVID-19.
- NIDA: Resources to Help Your Patients with Substance Use Disorders (SUD) During the COVID-19 Pandemic—Given the comorbidity of HIV and SUD, this National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) page may be of use to those who work with people with HIV.
- NIDA: COVID-19—This NIDA page of COVID-19 resources includes FAQs on COVID-19 and addiction/substance use disorder.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- SAMHSA.gov/coronavirus—This site provides guidance and resources on the prevention and treatment of those with mental health and SUD as it relates to COVID-19, including links to fact sheets on managing stress during COVID-19.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Community Living
- Strategies to Improve Equitable Vaccine Access for Older Adults and People With Disabilities—This is a compilation of strategies and best practices for helping older adults and people with disabilities access COVID-19 vaccines. More than half of people in the U.S. with diagnosed HIV are over age 50.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights
- HHS OCR Bulletin on Civil Rights Laws and HIPAA Flexibilities that Apply During the COVID-19 Emergency—This Bulletin is focused on ensuring that covered entities do not unlawfully discriminate against people with disabilities when making decisions about their treatment during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It includes addressing the needs of people with HIV in emergency planning.
- HHS OCR Guidance on Federal Legal Standards Prohibiting Disability Discrimination in COVID-19 Vaccination Programs—People with or at risk for HIV who have disabilities and those who work with them may find this information useful. (Related fact sheet.)
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- HUD HOPWA COVID-19 Guidance and Resources—This page offers COVID-19 guidance, webinars, and other COVID-19 resources for the grantees of HUD’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) Program.